(Business in Cameroon) - After stagnating at 2% for a long time (at the time when ADSL was at its peak); and increasing to 7% thanks to the dynamism observed in the use of mobile telephones, the internet access rate in Cameroon reached 25.6% as at end December 2015, we learned on 13 December 2016 in Yaoundé. This was during the presentation of the report on mobility published this past November by equipment manufacturer Ericsson.
According to the management of the Cameroonian subsidiary of this Swedish telecoms firm, these statistics were revealed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the June 2016 Ericsson Mobility report.
Analysing the same figures leads to the assessment that the internet access rate in Cameroon is higher than the one for the sub-Saharan African region, which was at only 20% over the same period.
Upon further observation, the spectacular growth noted in internet access in Cameroon corresponds to the year the 3G and 4G services were launched by the two mobile market leaders, MTN and Orange.
This double monopoly of approximately 15 million mobile subscribers (out of 22 million inhabitants) in Cameroon, joined operator Nextell, first beneficiary of a 3G licence in country who had entered this market segment six months earlier, on this technology.
“4G started very quickly in Cameroon. Operators rolled it out very quickly. It is not often the case in other countries”, noted Olivier Vandermoten, MD of Ericsson Cameroun.
However, Appolinaire Mebanga, Account Manager at Ericsson Cameroun, insists, “in March 2015, Cameroon was one of the two countries in sub-Saharan Africa to lag behind in the deployment of 3G and 4G services, which MTN and Orange finally launched the same year”.
But, apart from the roll out of the 3G and 4G, the high growth in internet access rate in the country, in particular through mobile internet, can be explained by the equally lightning growth in the use of smartphones by mobile subscribers.
From this point of view, in its financial statements as at end June 2016, the South-African telecom group MTN International, announced that the number of smartphones on its network in Cameroon reached 2.6 million devices, in increase by 34.1%.
Driven by the advent of 3G and 4G, then by the smartphones trend followed by mobile subscribers, the progress in internet access in Cameroon also attracts new operators, certainly interested by the opportunities this market has to offer. This is the case for Vodafone, who has been positioning itself for some months now on the LTE market.
Brice R. Mbodiam